A Departure in Style

Today’s practice painting — a quick oil on canvas paper — is a definite departure from my usual landscape style. It was interesting to play with my oil paints in different ways to create a look that is reminiscent of watercolor.

Winter Pines – Practice Piece 9 x 12 Oil on Canvas Paper

This was not only a new style for me to explore, it was also an exercise to help me develop my awareness of focal points. While I succeeded with the first, I failed with the latter — in my opinion, at least.

Let me ask you. Where do you perceive the focal point to be? In other words, when you look at this painting, where do your eyes go first?

In some respects, I think this painting “works” as far as inviting the viewer eyes to cover the landscape, or nearly so, at least. Even if my original plan for creating a strong focal point failed, I think I might have compensated for it as I continued painting.

So, help me out here, please, and share your thoughts about this practice piece. Knowing how you view the picture — where your eyes are drawn, how — if — they travel through the painting — will be of great value to me as I continue my 100-day creative exploration in the realm of mood and atmosphere in oil painting.



    1. Good. My original “point” was at the base of the tree where I first had more shadow. As I played, I lost some of the dark area. I think I was still hitting close to home, though. I love that I’m learning so many new things. It’s a challenge to remember everything though. 🙂


  1. My eyes immediately went to the brighter spot just below the darkness in the middle, then to the tree trunk, & then I followed that down before I noticed how many beautiful colors are in the sky. That small space intrigues me the most. It’s like a cave or tunnel that might lead me somewhere.

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    1. 🙂 That was my original focal point idea… only at the start it extended more toward the base of the tree. It got “lost” a bit as I painted, but I’m glad it’s still working somewhat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The light behind the tree, the tree, then the sky. Nice eye travel from tree-sky-ground and the greenery is background only. A “spot” at the base of the tree won’t hold attention as a focal point, but it’s a great starting point. Thanks for doing so much study so that the rest of us can benefit from your hard work!!

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    1. That was my hope… that the darker contrast would catch the eye and then allow the viewer’s sight to travel through the painting. There is so much to learn! Sharing it with others helps me sort through all the information and begin making sense of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the lake! Actually, it’s just a dark spot, and it’s purpose was to catch a viewer’s eyes. It was supposed to lead to the base of the tree, but in my paint-splashing some of that got lost. 🙂

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  3. My eye is immediately drawn to the very dark spot just off center – contrast,
    light against dark, or dark against light always attracts a viewer’s attention!
    Only then, does my eye travel up the attractive tree trunk toward the bright, light sky.
    Not much is happening there, so my eye returns to the dark spot and briefly to the base of the tree to look more closely. I don’t feel directed to look for long at the tree itself.
    The tree is nicely painted, but if you want that to be the center of interest, you need to have the most value contrast there, and the most detail, as well.
    I like the painting quite a bit! And think you should be happy that the center of interest appears to be the dark area – it leaves some ambiguity and questions for the viewer to ponder, rather than just a straightforward look at a tree trunk.
    You’ve made a much more interesting painting than you intended. As it is, I feel there is a mystery here, a story, and I want to look closer and contemplate, rather than quickly move on. Nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comments. Initially I had that “dark area” extending toward the tree more, but it got sort of “brushed away” as I painted. I do like that it turned out a bit “mysterious”. In its own way, it seems to add something to the painting. I really do like the colors in the painting. I actually pinned this on the bulletin board above my easel because I like how it makes me feel. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, Judith… Kudos… Good targeted practice… Your focal point is the darkest dark and adjacent dark interior of the foliage … Perhaps a couple values to low on a 10 point value scale given the values in the remainder of the painting…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m only now starting to learn about “relative values” — in using high-key or low-key ranges. A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have had a clue what you were talking about LOL but now I understand perfectly. This is one more area where I’m working to learn and begin applying the knowledge. I appreciate the feedback. Please keep reading and following my progress! 🙂


    1. Yep! The dark spot originally was bigger, but even after I covered part of it up, it still does draw attention. It definitely proves the point about using “contrast”. 🙂


  5. I went directly for the dark spot. My mentor was a big fan of one splotch of a unique color applied in a critical spot and nowhere else in a painting. It could be any color as long as it was radically different from any other. I like that idea too. After the dark spot I wandered around to look at everything else, which is exactly what you would want any viewer to do.

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